While the coronavirus pandemic has shut down many aspects of daily life, and while Floridians are sheltering in place waiting out the state’s stay-at-home order, life goes on. Although it might feel like time is standing still, we are still inevitably moving forward. With this in mind, even as we shelter in place, certain concerns cannot be ignored. We still need to take care of our health, we still need to pay our bills, and we still need to make sure we are prepared should we get sick or something else unexpected occurs.
With this in mind, what should you do if your estate plan is out of date? Can you update your estate plan during the coronavirus pandemic? Should you update your estate plan during the coronavirus pandemic? Is there any reason why you should wait until things have begun to return to normal? Here are the answers to these questions (and more) from estate planning attorneys Rebeccah Beller and Mina Bustamante:
Q: Can You Update Your Estate Plan during the Coronavirus Pandemic?
Yes, absolutely. There is nothing that prevents you from updating your estate plan during the coronavirus pandemic (or any other catastrophic event), and law firms are still operating during the pandemic. At Beller & Bustamante, P.L., we are continuing to serve our clients remotely, and we can discuss your needs and exchange documents in confidence via phone and email.
Q: Should You Update Your Estate Plan during the Coronavirus Pandemic?
Yes, if you believe that your estate plan needs to be updated for any reason, you should go ahead and update it. Again, there is no reason to wait, and you do not want something to happen to you while your estate plan is inconsistent with your final wishes.
Q: Is There Any Reason to Wait until the Pandemic Is Over?
No, none at all. Keeping your estate plan up to date is important; and, if it needs to be updated, you should not wait until the coronavirus pandemic is over to make changes. The unfortunate reality of the COVID-19 outbreak is that it is impacting people in Florida, throughout the United States, and worldwide in unexpected ways. In addition to other concerns, you do not want to be in a position where you get sick and your estate plan does not give your doctors or loved ones the directions you desire.
Q: Why Might You Need to Update Your Will or Trust?
If you are concerned about your estate plan but are not sure why, specifically, you might need to make changes to your will or trust, there are a number of different factors to consider. For example, if your family or financial circumstances have changed (e.g., you are earning significantly more than you used to or you have new children or grandchildren), these are factors that could impact your estate planning goals. Likewise, if you have sold a significant asset (such as a piece of real estate) or if any other major life events have transpired, your estate plan may be outdated and you may need to make changes in order to reflect your present circumstances.
Q: Why Might You Need to Update Your Other Estate Planning Documents?
Similar factors could cause your power of attorney, advance medical directive, and other estate planning documents to be outdated as well. Additionally, if it has been a while since you prepared your estate plan, your desires with regard to health care planning may have changed. As the world struggles to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, now is as good a time as ever to make sure that your estate plan still reflects your wishes.
Q: What If You Don’t Have Your Old Estate Plan?
If you don’t have your old estate plan, that’s okay. We may be able to help you track it down. If it is truly lost, we can help you prepare a new estate plan that reflects your current health, family, and financial circumstances.
Q: What If You and Your Spouse Have a Joint Estate Plan?
As we have discussed previously, having a joint estate plan can present certain challenges when one spouse wants to make a change. While we can work with you to update your joint estate plan – and we certainly will if that is what makes the most sense for your personal circumstances – we may also recommend that you and your spouse prepare your own estate plans at this time. While joint estate plans are still used occasionally, they are more relics of the past that have been replaced by more contemporary estate planning methodologies.
Q: Will You Need to Meet with Your Lawyer in Person to Sign Your Estate Planning Documents?
Maybe. If we need to meet with you in person during the coronavirus pandemic, we have implemented protocols to ensure appropriate social distancing and to maintain compliance with the governor’s stay-at-home order and all other pertinent guidelines and requirements.
Q: What If Something Happens before You Update Your Estate Plan?
If something were to happen to you before you were able to update your estate plan, then your existing estate plan would remain in effect. Even if you have expressed different desires, generally speaking, your written plan is ultimately what is going to control.
Q: What If I am Concerned That My Parent’s (or Other Loved One’s) Estate Plan Might Be Insufficient or Out of Date?
If you are concerned that your parent’s or another loved one’s estate plan is insufficient or out of date, you should speak with him or her about your concerns. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do on your own. We can provide you with some tips for talking to your loved one, and we encourage you to get in touch if you would like more information.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation at Beller & Bustamante, P.L.
Is it time to update your estate plan? If so, please contact us to schedule a confidential initial consultation about your estate planning needs. To speak with an experienced estate planning attorney in confidence, call us directly or tell us how we can help online today.